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South Italian Cooking

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An Overview of the South
Southern Italy

Southern Italy

Kyle Phillips
Southern Italy is a land of contrasts; on the one hand it is the poorest section of Italy, and in the past much of the population subsisted on an almost exclusively vegetarian diet, eating greens and bread or pasta. On other, the nobility was extraordinarily wealthy, enjoying a rich and extremely refined diet.

With respect to Northern and Central Italy there is greater use of dried pasta (as opposed to egg pasta), though people also enjoy vegetable based soups, and entrees, many of which also include fish. In terms of meat, though there are cattle, historically the South is known for shepherding, and lamb and kid play a much more important role in the diet than they do in much of the north. Fish also contribute strongly, and indeed in many coastal areas dominate.

The growing season is much longer, and hotter in the South; among the most popular summer vegetables are tomatoes (many of which go into red sauces) and eggplant, whereas in the winter months broccoli raab and cauliflower come to the fore.

Southern cheeses are also worth mentioning; they tend to be firm, for example caciocavallo and provolone, though there is a wonderful exception: Mozzarella.

Finally, Southern desserts tend to be much more opulent than those made further north.

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